Watching the exploits of the Paper Sisters, Judge Mike Pinsky can't help wondering whatever became of their brother Jackie and his magic dragon.
"Now the operation has entered a new phase. We shall start looking for her. That girl with the glasses."—Joker
When we last left the Paper Sisters—Maggie, Michelle, and Anita—they were in the middle of an assault on their former boss, the corporate monolith Dokusensha. The explosive battle came as a welcome shift from the long stretches of character development in R.O.D. the TV.
Yes, character development. In this sense, R.O.D. is a far cry from its ostensible inspiration, Charlie's Angels. They might both be slickly directed and rely on cheesecake disguised as female empowerment. But Hideyuki Kurata is no McG, and I mean that in the nicest way. While the action in this series might come in fits and starts, the show keeps things interesting with strong storytelling and characters who rise above the cliché "cute girlie heroes" that proliferate in much anime. And when the action does come, it is tightly directed. Action sequences in television animation are notoriously lacking in fluid animation, so judicious angles and pinpoint timing must maximize whatever bursts of dynamism the budget can afford. The battle against Dokusensha in Episode 13, which kicks off this fourth volume of R.O.D. the TV, culminates in the sort of apocalyptic property damage (including the sinking of Hong Kong for no clear reason) that usually climaxes any other anime series. But here it is only the midpoint, the wrap-up of the Dokusensha storyline, and the beginning of even bigger things.
And so, after a brief detour in Episode 14 to fill in the backstory of the entire Read or Die series (the original OAV and the television series), we are ready to unite all the plot threads. Enter Yomiko Readman (Kimberly Yates from the OAV has been replaced here by Helena Taylor, sporting an appropriate British accent), the adorably literate superspy who headlined the Read or Die OAV. She might seem a bit less bubbly than in her previous adventures, but she has been through a lot in the last few years. Enter a new antagonist, part of the show's shift toward a critique here of European colonialism (as the show's first half might be seen as a satire of Asian corporate power).
Beyond this, I probably should not say much more about the plot twists in this crucial middle installment of what is rapidly becoming one of my favorite anime series. So far, R.O.D. the TV does not disappoint. This is an action series with intelligence and wit—and a little fan service cheesecake to keep the tone light.
On the production front, Geneon provides another amusing commentary track, this time teaming voice director Taliesin Jaffe with several voice actors. Patrick Seitz (who plays Lee, literary agent from hell) is a high school English teacher between voice acting gigs. But Tricia Dickson (who plays blocked novelist Nenene and appears here under the name Wendy Tomson) actually hates reading.
I suspect that all the action and humor of R.O.D. the TV is not going to change her mind. But that is okay. At least if you are going to watch television instead of reading a book, at least it should be good television.
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary Track with U.S. Voice Actors
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